Homelessness was the focus of Ms Mbalenhle Dube’s Master’s Degree in Population Studies.
‘I have always been curious about who homeless people are and the factors that have led to their situation,’ said Dube. ‘This study fed my curiosity as I examined their lives, gaining an understanding of hardships they have endured.’
Dube’s research touches on a crucial societal issue and challenge that she believes is not yet properly understood. ‘Homeless people can be viewed as a subset of the population that reflects the socio-economic problems facing the country.
‘South Africa is considered to have the most progressive Constitution centred on the promotion of the rights of citizens, yet there is a steady increase in the number of homeless people in the country. This study makes for an interesting academic inquiry which would benefit society in the long run,’ she said.
Her research found that the majority of the study participants became homeless following loss of employment, family issues and community factors such as gang violence.
One of the major challenges Dube faced during her studies, was adapting to the requirements and expectations of the MA degree. ‘The level and demands were very high. Winter school was the hardest, being in varsity whilst everyone else was at home resting; but looking back now I can only pat myself on the back.
‘To my family and friends, thank you for the love, the support and prayers which helped me to pull through. Thanks also to my research participants for making this study possible, without them I would have not had a sample to study from. I am also grateful for the patience, support and guidance of my supervisor Professor Pranitha Maharaj.’
Dube currently works as a Researcher for Statistics South Africa and plans to pursue a PhD soon. However, for now she is content getting as much workplace experience as she can and honing her research skills.